Gettysburg is taking its turn in the national spotlight this summer, marking the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, July 1-3 (a huge list of events can be found here). I thought it would be the perfect time to shine a spotlight on one of Gettysburg’s historical artists, Amy Lindenberger of Civil War Fine Art.
Behind the traditional Civil War era brick façade at Civil War Fine Art, 333 Baltimore Street, lies a treasure-trove of historical art that, on the surface, appears to have the rich coloring of finely-worked oil paintings. Beneath the surface, however, lies an unconventional medium: layers upon layers of colored pencil. An unconventional approach to the traditional subject of Civil War art doesn’t end there. Artist Amy Lindenberger doesn’t tackle the traditional scenes of Civil War battle; she enjoys bringing less prominent historical subjects and stories to light, such as civilian scenes rife with emotion and thought-provoking portraits featuring significant women of the time period.
Of special significance, during the sesquicentennial, is Lindenberger’s Civil War Chronology Project, a series of more than twenty pieces of artwork chronicling the lesser-known personalities and events leading up to the Civil War, encompassing the time period 1852 through the assassination of Abraham Lincoln in 1865. The first in the series is The Advocate, a portrait of abolitionist Harriet Beecher Stowe overlaid with text providing insight into her penning of the pivotal novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin, published in 1852:
I wrote what I did because as a woman, a mother, I was oppressed and broken-hearted with the sorrows and injustices I saw. …as a Christian, I felt the dishonor to Christianity. …as a lover of my country, I trembled at the coming day of wrath.
Additional personalities in Lindenberger’s Women of Distinction series: Clara Barton and Sarah Emma Edmonds, an intriguing woman who assumed the identity of a man in order to enlist and serve—successfully—as a soldier in the Civil War.
Lindenberger’s Departure depicts Sarah Emma Edmonds’ journey symbolically and is one of 137 works chosen—out of more than 1,900 entries—for the Art of the State: Pennsylvania 2013 exhibit at the Pennsylvania State Museum in Harrisburg. The exhibit opened Saturday, June 22 and runs through September 8.
Lindenberger says people often thank her for focusing on subjects other than famous generals or battle scenes. Her artwork begins, almost always, with a story. She enjoys merging art with fact by thoroughly researching her subjects. Lindenberger provides a historical narrative to accompany each of her works. “I have a firm commitment to allowing each piece whatever amount of time it may take to see completion; I believe it is the best way to give respect to those Americans who lived through this defining era,” she explains.
Earning respect as a historical artist in a town as defining to American history as Gettysburg is one thing; earning it as a colored pencil artist is another. As a charter member of the Colored Pencil Society of America, Lindenberger was one of a handful of artists nationwide, who recognized the need to develop a non-profit organization that advanced their craft. That was in 1990. Today, the Society boasts 1,600 members worldwide and 25 chapters across the United States. All are dedicated to creating artwork via the challenging medium of colored pencil, which requires countless hours of detailed work and multiple layers of colors, often rubbed and blended in order to achieve a luminous effect.
Lindenberger says she enjoys seeing visitors’ reactions when they realize her work is done in color pencil. “People are often intrigued and surprised to think of fine art as color pencil,” she says. “Then they ask how many hours it takes me to complete a work, and the answer is as many as 450 hours for something as large as Rose Greenhow, my largest work to date.”
“Some people describe it as tedious… I think of it as meditative,” Lindenberger says.
To visit Amy Lindenberger’s gallery, Civil War Fine Art:
333 Baltimore Street, Gettysburg PA 17325
(717) 338-3463A writer and photographer at heart, Karen Hendricks owns Hendricks Communications offering public relations, marketing and related services. A native of the Philadelphia area, she has called Gettysburg home for 20+ years. Karen earned a BA in Communications from Lock Haven University, and she pens the series An Eye for Art. Follow her on Facebook, tweet with her @KarenHendricks9 or check out her blog project Off the Merry-Go-Round.